NewsFamilies encouraged to get out and explore the outdoors, with COVID-19 precautions SHARE ON: Ethan Morneau, staff Thursday, Aug. 20th, 2020 Camping chairs and tents. (Mac DeStroir. Pexels.com)With the stress and pressures of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one teacher and author is encouraging families to get out and enjoy the outdoors.Jeff Alt is the author of ‘Get Your Kids Hiking’ and the young adult national park time travel series, ‘The Adventures of Bubba Jones.’Alt says, “Due to the pandemic, students, parents, and teachers are having to study and work remotely indoors this fall and maybe into the winter. But excessive screen time is being associated with increased childhood obesity, mental health issues, and even social skill problems.”Researchers agree that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower with outdoor recreation activities.This all points to the importance and the advantages of walking, hiking and camping, “as a great way to stay healthy physically and mentally.”To stay safe from COVID-19 exposure while camping and hiking, Alt reminds families to stay local, be prepared, keep your distance, and be extra cautious in public washrooms.“A big part of making a fall hiking and camping adventure fun and safe is to stay warm, dry, hydrated and fed. Fall can offer some brilliant leaf-peeping opportunities, but you may also experience adverse weather conditions.”Remember to plan ahead and bundle up, and don’t forget to bring a map, compass, GPS, hiking stove, and pack extra snacks and enough water.Be sure to suit up in comfort, style and the latest technology, with good footwear, clothing, backpacks, and trekking poles.Alt also says you should have suntan lotion, bug repellent, first aid kit, matches and lighter, whistle and signal mirror, survival knife, flashlight, extra batteries, 50 feet of rope or twine, and some duct tape on hand as well when exploring the outdoors.For more tips, or to learn more about author Jeff Alt and his adventure books, click here.